Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Manors and Marches--Blog Tour review of The Second Season


I occasionally know the authors whose books I feature on my blog--Lauren Skidmore, Emma Parker and Rebecca Greenwood, for example--but I had a fun opportunity last weekend.

The Sandy, UT Barnes and Noble had an Authorpalooza, where 30 authors did signings.  I think our marketing person said 20 of them were Cedar Fort authors.  Some of these people I had never heard of.  One person's appearance reminded me that I needed to buy her cookbook for my cousin.  I got a ride from Rebecca and said hi to my old friends from Salt Lake City Comic-Con a few weeks ago and the author with whom I shared a book birthday..

Most of my contact was with the person sitting next to me, Heather Chapman.  After worrying that she wasn't speaking up enough (a worry everyone shares at some point in the publicity process), she devised a points system and a prize.  Nervous as we both were to be relentlessly cheerful extroverts, we talked to people as much as possible, handed out cards and bookmarks as much as possible and came up with clever ways to connect with our readers.  When I won by what I think was a narrower margin than what she actually did, she bought me a chile hot chocolate to celebrate me being more (according to her) audacious.

So What?

I tell you this story to introduce the sort of soul who wrote this book.  When I was dating my ex, John, his mother introduced me to Frances Burney.  Writing a generation before Jane Austen, Burney wrote the primers for the sorts of books that Austen produced.  The social customs that we take for granted after watching Pride and Prejudice a few too many times are explored and explained in her books and they're utterly delightful.  The protagonists were typically sheltered girls or young women approaching the social season for the first time and without much preparation.  Some characters were even introduced only by their trope--one of my favorite of her characters is known only as The Fop.

Any time you mention Regency romance to me, I immediately start talking about Frances Burney.  Frankly, I think she's the most positive thing I got out of my relationship with John.

The Book

The Second Season reminds me strongly of its inspirations (and I'm impressed that Heather says it was somewhat inspired by her grandparents), but while she calls it a Regency romance, I found myself reading Burney into a lot of the pages.  Moreover, the humor and adventure of the main characters made me feel as though I was sitting down with my well-worn copy of Little Women.  I spent more time caring about the family dynamics and the occasional background mysteries than anything else.

This is not because the romance was badly-written.  I prefer books that establish a world and an ensemble cast and then tell the story of how a love interest finds his or her place within that world.  I feel as though Heather did a great job doing that sort of world-building and allowing us to form our own opinions of who should be welcomed into that microsociety.

The plot brings to mind Pride and Prejudice, but the characters seem to come out of some of my other favorites--Persuasion and Emma.  They are neither dull nor standard and they definitely have a kindred spirit with the person who sat next to me in Barnes and Noble.

Buy it here:  https://www.amazon.com/Second-Season-Heather-Chapman-ebook/dp/B01KPDTD1I/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I was provided a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blog Tour: Blue Spirit and Restless Spirit review

Book Synopsis for Blue Spirit:   Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she’s tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships.
With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen’s plot?

Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!

Book Synopsis for Restless Spirit:
When Skye McLeod is asked by her pal Phil Jenson if she wants to cosplay at his game company’s booth during Big Con Weekend—and get paid for it—she jumps at the chance. Besides, Skye’s hit a rocky patch with her girlfriend Annabelle, who wants her to stop drinking and act more responsibly.
Then Skye gets a call from paranormal detective Rebecca Burton for another job; something big is going on at the convention, and she needs Skye to be her eyes and ears there. So now Skye’s getting paid to have fun—twice!

Then The Night Duke, a creep from Skye’s live role playing days, shows up and uses some weird mojo, seemingly turning pretend zombies into real ones. After barely escaping an attack, Skye learns the fairies and trolls within the magical realm are getting restless, and her old friend, the Transit King, is in the middle of it.

Skye decides to once again enlist the aid of her fairy companion “Minnie.” For Skye to enter the magic realm, she needs to get tipsy. Then she’ll just have to control the powers within her and contain the outside forces that threaten to spin into chaos. How can she possibly screw this up?

Book Two of the Tipsy Fairy Tales TrilogyReview

I'm going to start out with one of the highest compliments I can give in a review.  It's not one that I give lightly, so enjoy it and I hope you agree with it if you read these books.

There are no token characters in these books.

Sometimes, in books or movies, I get utterly and completely turned off by the obligatory characters.  There is the struggling housewife, the sassy gay best friend, the husband who's not man enough for something, the makeover BFF, the Big Bad who is ripped off from something Joss Whedon...  You get the idea.  I can make you lists of things I would never recommend just because "I had to sit through two hundred pages of Mattie, the Prada-obsessed boytoy of Enrico telling the protagonist that she's a hot mess" or "The plot might have been interesting if the villain were at all original or motivated by something more complex than proving he's virile by galaxy domination."  (Can you tell that I've been reading things slightly against my will recently?)

Let me give you an example. Our main girl has a girlfriend.  Because this is fantasy, there are fairies.  But they don't get old.  We understand that the LARPing main character has a role-playing husband and her girlfriend isn't insecure about it, but joins the game to share an interest.  I like books where there are real relationships and those aren't the only ones.  The ensemble cast is brilliantly done and it feels like we're coming into the middle of a sixth season, but picking up the books for the first time.

In terms of world-building, I like the approaches to the fantastical elements.  There are elements of demonic possession that seem fresh to me, the girl who has been a fan of The Exorcist for 20 years and writes about necromancy.  Minnie--part-fairy, part-familiar, part-ninja--is my favorite character.  One of my favorite parts of the book where they go onto even more familiar ground and run a booth at a Con is when we see sinister characters go very Sunnyvale After Dark until Minnie intervenes. It turns out that these utterly evil-seeming characters are hostages.  This gives very good resonance to the character who's still dealing with the aftermath of being a "meat puppet" for a demon.  It's like what would happen if Regan from The Exorcist grew up and was a social worker for a girl who is possessed.

I really don't want to give more away, so I'll leave you with this recommendation to go meet the cast of these books and find out how much more complicated it is.

These eBooks being reviewed were provided for an honest review, and that no compensation was provided.

Author Links:

Twitter:  @EChrisGarrison

Amazon Links for Blue Spirit
Print Version

Kindle Version

Barnes and Noble Link for Blue Spirit

Amazon Links for Restless Spirit

Print Version

Kindle Version

Barnes and Noble Link for Restless Spirit


Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Blitz Tour: House of Bloodstein

Hello again.  I'm privileged to introduce a bit information on this book and was frankly more fascinated by the author's personal dossier than anything else.  I do want to read this book, but my designated task involves Top Ten author facts and Character Casting, both of which I enjoyed.

Top Ten List

10:  Ren was once engaged to a woman 25 years his elder.
9:    Ren visited New York City and admired the World Trade Center towers just a month or so before the tragedy of 9/11.
8:    The FBI once put a gun in Ren's face.
7:    Bad hearts run in Ren's family. He's already outlived most of his paternal grandfathers, all of whom died in their 30's.
6:    Ren's poor eyesight went undiagnosed until he was in the 3rd grade. Up until that point, he was considered "mentally challenged".
5:    Ren broke his neck playing volleyball in college.
4:    Ren often sleeps on the floor, finding it more comfortable than the bed.
3:    Ren was once held at gunpoint and frisked by the guards of the Prince of Saudi Arabia.
2:    Ren was introduced to his wife via Match Makers International.

1:    In a vast extended family of exclusively brown-eyed people, Ren somehow managed to get blue eyes.

Character Casting

‘Kay’ is the eldest son of Lord Davage and Countess Sygillis of Blanchefort. Green-eyed, purple-haired, he is considered handsome like his father and beautiful like his mother. He is the next in line as lord of the House, and the de facto leader of ‘The Gang’ with his cousins Sarah and Phillip. Like his father, Kay has the Gift of Sight. His status as a ‘Shadow tech Male’ has altered his Sight, changing it to the ‘Dark Sight’, allowing him to see and interact with objects great distances away and into the past and future.

Not overly strong, Kay was never able to lift his father’s seventy-seven pound King CARG. He therefore forged a smaller CARG infused with Silver tech power that he named SAMMIDORAN, after his love. After a horrendous set of tribulations in the Temple of the Exploding Head, Kay recently married ‘Sam’ in a grand Vith ceremony. They are eager to bear children. Once Sam finishes her traditional Monama Jar, they will begin.

An Anuian Monama of the Astralon tribe, Lady Sammidoran is the Ne-Countess of Blanchefort, wife of Lord Kabyl.
A Monama princess with prophetic powers, ‘Sam’ dreamed of her love, Kay, from the time she was a little girl, even before he was born. He came to her every night in her dreams, and she fell in love. Sam stared out her window into the fog and dreamed of the day she and Kay would be wed. She also knew that she would be turned into a Berserkacide one day by the horrid Horned God and would die by Kay’s hand. Planning for years, she devised a successful scheme to thwart death involving an ancient Machine of great power. Using the Machine, Sam was returned from the dead.

Sam is an Anuian Monama, very rare in the League these days. She is much bigger than a standard ‘Conox’ Monama; buxom, solid, standing about six feet tall.  She is bone white with a massive head of black Monama hair that goes down to her ankles. Her eyes, like all Monamas, are completely black, including the eye whites. She is incredibly strong, much stronger than a standard Elder and fast as a deer. Her fingernails, hard as iron, can be deadly weapons, should she choose to make use of them. In an unusual role-reversal, Sam is the muscle of ‘The Gang’, while Kay is the swordsman/trickster. She is also extremely susceptible to the cold of the north. She must wear an arcane Silver tech medallion called ‘Snugs’ to protect her from the cold. Without the medallion she would quickly die.

Sam loves life at Castle Blanchefort and maintains a comically combative relationship with Kay’s cousin, Sarah, though Sam loves her as a sister. Sam tends to consider herself a Vith lady, casting aside her Monama roots. Using a power sander, she files her nails down every day to a Vith-like length, she also wonders if she should cut her gloriously long hair. Sam is working to finish her Jar, otherwise any male children she might have would die. As Monamas are extremely fecund, Sam wears a protective bolabung to prevent her from becoming pregnant until the jar is finished.

Lady Sarah is the eldest daughter of Lady Poe of Blanchefort and Lord Peter of Ruthven. She is the twin sister of Phillip of Blanchefort—she loves to tell people she’s ten minutes older than Phillip. A typical Blanchefort, Sarah is tall and slender with a head of Vith blue hair she doesn’t fuss with much; just pulled back into a simple ponytail with bangs is her typical style. Hating gowns, Sarah always wears ‘boy’s clothes’: boots, pants, a sturdy shirt and her trusty black duster, similar to the coat her father, Lord Peter, once wore during his pirating days. Her best friends are her brother, Phillip, and their cousin, Kay. They have been inseparable their whole lives. Their favorite hang-out is the Mystery Library, a well-organized space Sarah built on the 50th floor of Xyotle Tower, full of books of ghost-stories, monsters, urban legends and various unsolved mysteries. She’s very organized and anal about things—would make a great librarian.  Sarah has always hoped the three of them would remain together forever, best friends always. Maybe that’s why she disliked and mistrusted Kay’s love, Lady Sammidoran, so much in the beginning; she was afraid ‘Sam’ would break up the gang.

Unlike her cousin, Lady Kilos, Sarah’s never bothered with the Kanan social scene many ladies partake in. Sarah’s an adventurer at heart, bold and tenacious, always ready for a new mystery to tackle. Brash and opinionated, Sarah’s rough-and-ready personality can rub people the wrong way. Though it took her a long time to accept Lady Sammidoran, Sarah always admired Sam’s strength and now adores her as Kay’s wife and member of ‘The Gang’ though they tend to fight constantly. 

The twin brother of Lady Sarah, Phillip is a study in contrast with her. While Sarah is loud and forceful and a bit impulsive, Phillip is quiet and cerebral, always taking things in and assessing the situation. Everything Phillip puts his mind to he does well. A brilliant pilot, Phillip learned to fly his father’s Goshawk ship at a very young age. His uncle, Captain Davage, has always hoped Phillip would join the Stellar Fleet as a helmsman.

Like his sister, though, Phillip loves to investigate mysteries and savor the thrill of an adventure, he’s just not as noisy about it, letting Sarah do all the talking. Like Sarah, he considers his cousin, Kay, his best friend.

A ruggedly handsome fellow, Phillip has always had many ladies hoping to court with him at a social level; however Phillip has always found the socialites of Kana too tame for his liking. He has a weakness for strong-willed, verbose, powerful women (those much like his sister in spirit.) On an adventure in the Xaphan city of Waam, Phillip met just such a woman: Thomasina, 19th of Waam, a strong matriarch of the old House of Woolover, and fell in love, though he refused to admit it. Thomasina fell for him as well and, quite literally, chased him through the streets of Waam in an epic battle of wills, Phillip savoring the chase. Eventually, Phillip proclaimed his love for her. They agreed not to marry until Phillip finishes his schooling, Thomasina reluctantly remaining far away in Waam.


Growing up on wild Onaris near the city of Tusck, Kilos was the 11th daughter of a very impoverished family. Growing into a tall, strong young woman, she married a childhood friend with a genius IQ.
Struggling to support themselves, “Ki” joined the Stellar Marines. She had a rough time of it; her temper getting the better of her again and again. She was selected from a work detail to infiltrate the Fleet Warbird Seeker and gather information on its captain, Lord Davage of Blanchefort.  Upon meeting Captain Davage, Ki was enchanted and the two became fast friends. Ki sailed at Davage’s side for thirty years, becoming his first officer and eventually joining the Stellar Fleet.

When Captain Davage and his new countess, Sygillis, had children, Ki was a perfect mentor for them, watching them grow into young adulthood. One day, Ki would follow Davage’s son, Kay, into the darkness of the Temple of the Exploding Head.

Eventually, Ki would have a son of her own, Sebastian. She retired from the Fleet and was offered a job as the Magistrate of Blanchefort Village.  She was given the key to Pendar Tower in the west end of Castle Blanchefort and moved in with her husband.
Her husband is a professor with a reputation for finding answers to difficult questions. She also has an ever-lasting Tweeter bird given to her by Lady Poe of Blanchefort twenty-years prior. With these resources available to her, Ki is known as a ‘Manhunter’, able to solve difficult cases.

An adaptation of the tried-and-true Tweeter design, King is a Silver tech familiar created by Lady Poe of Blanchefort, the mother of Sarah/Phillip of Blanchefort. King has all of the directional and tracking abilities Tweeter has, with the added ability to attack and kill if need be. King can fly at rail-gun speeds, can carry impossibly heavy loads and can destroy Shadow tech with silvery light from his eyes. Ashamed of the potent killing-power of her creation, Lady Poe keeps all her Kings out in the Servants Graveyard, surrounded by protections. She also built into King a self-destruct mechanism—when his tasks are complete, King will be compelled to return to the graveyard and be reincorporated, thus ending his life.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Blog Tour: Review of "Bleeding Hearts"

Hello again!  I'm having fun with stepping up my blog tours while I'm on editing duty for books and a short story.  Tonight is a mixed genre one called "Bleeding Hearts."  There is thriller mixed with romance and literary fiction with traces of natural humor.

As I've said with a few other books, I like mysteries where the points lead to a conclusion that doesn't make me sigh at the gaps in logic.  This one is not exactly a mystery, though I classify it as a character mystery, personally.  We open with a crime and backtrack through the steps that led to that and character development that results.  It is a character-driven plot about finding connections, but that's one of its strongest characteristics.

Cami (Camryn Lucks, friend of Emma Spade...  Does everyone have a casino name in this book?  That's beside the point.) is a slightly hard character to get used to.  As the story progresses, we see her emotional detachment from events and people come into play.  As a trauma survivor, I understand the need for detachment.  It's what one of my therapists called trauma-wiring.  I did, however, hope that there would be a more natural transition between the shell-shock and the end result.  It was hard to put myself in that character's shoes when I was used to her taking steps and then she did a bit of a long jump.  It could be that I'm reading too much of myself into this, since it took more of an adjustment for me to move between those elements of recovery.

The best aspect of the book for me was the even playing field that Dana gave the male characters.  Some authors bludgeon you with feelings about a particular character because they want you to feel a certain way about them.  (*cough*  Malfoy, Uncle Vernon *cough*)  In this case, Dana wrote characters who under most circumstances are no better or worse than others.  Except for knowing the end from the beginning, you can understand why one character is so appealing to Cami and when she has feelings for someone else, you can definitely see her same pattern of thinking, tempered with experience.

I won't put too much more, but thank Dana for letting me in on this story.

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